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Baby Zeppelin

What a week. I’ve got two broken ribs, nearly fifty immigrants infants can’t find their parents, and Mr T meets with the Queen while his baby image in a diaper floats above London like it’s the Macy’s Parade!

But first, let’s discuss Kylie Jenner on the cover of Forbes magazine. She is sneaking up on becoming one of the youngest American Billionaires since Mark Zuckerberg. Everyone, including Dictionary.com, is taking issue with the magazine’s assertion that Kylie is a “self-made” entrepreneur. So I thought, let’s dig into this one!

Horatio Alger Jr is the fictional writer we often equate with the myth of a “self-made-man.” We can thank Harvard for this, because even though his lineage dates back to the Pilgrims, when Alger was studying at Harvard he was denied entrance into the Hasty Pudding Club due to his “…genteel poverty and less-than-aristocratic heritage.” So what did this son of a Unitarian minister do in the mid 1800s?

He wrote about young boys who pulled themselves up out of poverty through hard work and or some act of courage or honesty – thereby making the big leap, almost unheard of in Europe, of becoming solidly middle-class. Strangely enough, he was living in New York and always interested in the plight of “street boys,” immigrants fresh off the boat from Ireland or Italy and orphans who had been left roaming the Lower East Side after the Civil War. He even adopted three boys.

To be honest, we’ve all relied on the kindness of strangers or a loan from a great aunt at some point in our lives. It really does take a village to raise a child, and in the case of Kylie, it took a whole social media, world-wide circus! Still, I’d come to her defense because she didn’t just invent an App, or create an avatar of herself for some video game. She took a risk, and instead of bemoaning her accusers for using fillers on her lips, she turned that into her business model.

She made lemonade out of lemons.

Sure she came from an already famous and wealthy family, poor thing, but she figured out a way to actually create something – granted it’s not a cure for cancer but you too can have pouty rosebud lips!

I mean look at another child of privilege, Mr T. He was handed the keys to his kingdom by his father, and he turned NYC into his personal playground. Unfortunately today, he’s cozying up to dictators, and trampling on our allies while padding the SCOTUS with ultra-conservative white men; all the while concurrently dismantling our government and destroying our reputation throughout the world.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if such an entrepreneur should turn out to have squandered his family fortune and be in debt to Russia? Our serial-liar-in-chief is one smooth operator. Like Alger, who was fired from his first job as a minister for molesting young boys, I sense something dark and foreboding lurking in president-bone-spurs past.

I’d love to see Mr T baby balloons take-off over here, maybe a Halloween costume? By October those immigrant babies will have been deported back to their parents I hope…and it shouldn’t hurt when I laugh, or sneeze right? We all need a little push while growing up!

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Confinement

We’re invited to a baby shower! My “Total eclipse of the sun” friend’s daughter, who happened to train at Vandy with the Bride, is having a baby. The new mama-to-be is a Pediatric Orthopedist who has gone on hunting trips with her father. I wonder if anyone is going to ask her how long her “confinement” will be?

That’s what Great Aunt Bertha wanted to know when I was waiting for the Bride to come into this world. And even today, in some cultures, cocooning the new mom/baby couple at home for the first month is de rigeur. A rite of passage when grandparents and aunties lived in the same village, or around the block.

While finally watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Netflix, I’ve found myself drawn to certain news stories about the myriad ways women have been constrained throughout herstory: binding the feet of high caste Chinese girls to resemble hooves; ever increasing chokers to lengthen the necks of African women; and the latest tortuous injustice in Nepal – banishing menstruating women to a small hut every month because of a superstition that they will bring bad luck to their families.

Young women have died from the cold, from a snakebite, from smoke inhalation. Last year Nepal passed a law criminalizing this practice, yet it is rarely enforced. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/world/asia/nepal-women-menstruation-period.html

  • In many world religions, women are seen as impure during their periods
  • They are restricted from entering places of worship and following religious rites
  • The chhaupadi tradition followed by Hindus in western Nepal is the most extreme version where women are banished outside during their monthly cycle
  • In India, women are not allowed to enter some Hindu temples and Muslim mosques while menstruating but there have been court cases to overturn this
  • In southern India, a girl reaching puberty is celebrated with a party and presents
  • In the Dogon tribe in Mali, women of the village also live in a hut during their periods

So this morning, as the world celebrates the rescue of all 12 pre-pubescent Thai boys and their soccer coach from a cave, I can’t help noticing that buried at the bottom of the NYT’s front page is a small piece about immigration. Today is the deadline imposed by a San Diego federal judge for the Trump administration to reunite all migrant families with their children who are less than 5 years of age.

The reunions will be carried out today for about HALF of the children under extreme secrecy with the Department of Homeland Security. As we look away, as we turn to Thailand, some South American families will be reunited and immediately deported. But what about the other children under 5, where are their parents? Where are they? What about the children over 6? The Love Bug will turn 6 this summer.

I never thought my country would break up families and put children in cages on our Southern border. And today, as this administration defies a court order of reunification because (insert some reason here for losing about 50 children and babies) I wonder what our legislators will do. Because doing nothing is no longer an option.

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Hope y’all had a Happy Fourth! The Bride and Groom imported an 8′ bouncy water slide onto their lawn, so that even on a 96 degree day all the kids had outside fun! I whipped up a pesto pasta primavera and Great Grandma Ada helped bake some mini-white-chocolate-lemon cheesecakes adorned with strawberries, blueberries and bits of broken white choco-lusciousness. Sprinkled amidst the watermelon and hot dogs were voter registration forms, just in case!

Because as we were celebrating our first Fourth with all the Grands in Nashville, the Rocker and Aunt KiKi were visiting two museums in Amsterdam, and this was his takeaway: “incredibly powerful visit to the national holocaust museum and memorial and the dutch resistance museum today on our last day in amsterdam. some sobering reminders of the dangers of fascism and what human beings are capable of. the dutch resistance museum was particularly intriguing, as it continually asks you, what would you do in the face of a rising wave of fascism? adapt and ignore, collaborate, or actively resist?”  

Could this just be the last, gasping, dying breath of racism dressed up as white nationalism? Yesterday, James Fields Jr pled “Not Guilty” in a Charlottesville courtroom to multiple federal hate crime charges. He was the Ohio man who decided he would drive his car into a group of counter-protestors at the “Unite the Right” rally last August on the Historic Downtown Mall. The very weekend we were moving from the Blue Ridge, Fields injured many and killed Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old young woman who believed in love and not hate.

The judge asked him if he suffered from mental illness… is that because if you’re white and run into a group of people with your car you couldn’t possibly be a terrorist? Fields said he suffers from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and ADHD…and I nearly choked on the bile of his audacity.

That, and the news about Justice Kennedy had us all wondering when this assault on democracy might end; if we are going to resist, NOW is the time. Block a vote on filling the Supreme Court vacancy – there should be NO vote until Mr T is no longer the subject of a federal investigation! Here is what Cory Booker had to say :

“If we’re not going to thoroughly discuss what it means to have a president with this ongoing investigation happening, who is now going to interview Supreme Court justices, and potentially continue with his tradition of doing litmus tests, loyalty tests, for that person, we could be participating in a process that could undermine that criminal investigation,” Booker said yesterday. “I do not believe [the Senate Judiciary Committee] should or can in good conscience consider a nominee put forward by this president until that investigation is concluded.”   http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/booker-no-supreme-court-vote-until-resolution-trump-investigation

But the best thing about this last week, to end on a high note, is that Bob and I bought a new car! As many of you know, I dread driving on the Fourth of July, because that was the holiday that found my family fractured by a drunk driver in 1949. We had just lost our father to brain cancer, and now our mother, the Flapper, and Nana were hospitalized leaving baby me in the care of their friends. I’m a nervous wreck generally in any car, but Bob’s old Acura had lived a good, long life. It was time, it was past time.

We now have so many driver-assist doo dads, I’m feeling almost comfortable driving again. So keep the faith, register young voters, and start calling your legislators again people! Get on the Booker train, it’s time to pick your torch – the one in our Lady’s hand on Liberty Island, or the Tikki torches that marched on Thomas Jefferson’s campus. Patriotism is an active noun.

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Is this the real life, or must we upload a picture to social media in order to “Make it so?” The famous Freddie Mercury song, Bohemian Rhapsody, has been swirling around in my head. First of all, the Rocker scored the incredible trailer for the biopic about Mercury https://www.cbsnews.com/news/see-the-first-trailer-for-queen-biopic-bohemian-rhapsody/

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see

And then of course we have our first Reality Show President, working tirelessly behind the scenes to encourage Chief Justice Tony Kennedy, his buddy, to retire NOW. Everyone knows there’s business as usual, and then outside the boardroom all the deals are made in advance. Thank “The Apprentice!” Ivanka takes her daughter on a tour of the Supreme Court courtesy of Tony. Turns out the Donald worked closely with “Tony’s boy” at Deutsche Bank, arranging for loans when other banks wouldn’t touch him.

Bob and I have been helping the Great Grands turn their apartment into a home and dreaming about our own real estate dynasty. What if we, Baby Boomers, the last of a dying breed with secure financial futures thanks to pensions,  401(k)s, and Social Security, were to reinvent retirement? I know I’ve mentioned this before but hear me out: How about a Reality Show for Alta Kakas!?! If you are new to Yiddish, this is an endearing swear word for old people.

I know I know, The Golden Girls. Thanks to Women’s Liberation, we are now dying off in similar numbers so we have to think about the guys right – plus, that was then, when everyone went to Florida. And even though Betty White is an icon, that was a sit-com; I’m talking reality baby, like “Big Brother” only with seniors. Can you see it, a food fight breaks out in the dining room with rice pudding flying everywhere. I would call it “Golden Disrupters.”

Or maybe film this reality show on the water. Did you know there are retirees called “Great Loopers” who put their boats in the water and spend their last days cruising the intercoastal waterways of the South. They bisect Florida on the Okeechobee canal, thereby avoiding the Keys. It’s kinda like Glamping, and definitely not yachting.

Whatever we end up doing on our Golden Pond, I suggest to you that indeed we CAN escape reality, in fact we MUST in order to save our sanity! And Art has always been a great way to circumvent conflict and chaos. In true Adalisciousness, we have turned a second bedroom into an art studio. Here the Bride joins her to paint lilies from a neighbor’s garden.

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Bob’s car died the other day. Luckily, he was downtown and not on a highway, but we took it as a sign, time to give up the ghost. His Acura has served him pretty well for over 300,030 miles! Our one-car family was about to become whole again, it was time to start car shopping. Imagine that, a new car with all sorts of driver-assist doo-dads.

I have to admit, I’m getting a rush. It’s like that Handmaid said in the very first episode of the Handmaid’s Tale, their ice cream was better than sex. “Real sex.”

Oh, yes last night I finally gave in and signed up for Hulu, just to watch my favorite author’s dystopian nightmare about a land that could treat women like baby-making religious robots. I just had to watch Elizabeth Moss as Offred, after hearing about Justice Kennedy.

You see, for an old school feminist like me, all the latest SCOTUS rulings chipping away at our human rights in favor of some religious zealot’s right was a bit much. Throwing me over the edge was Kennedy’s decision yesterday to retire now,  this summer. Granted he is a Conservative, but he voted like a real “compassionate conservative.” Remember them?

Bob kept telling me not to download Hulu; “It’s going to depress you,” he said. But I subscribe to that other Kennedy motto, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I wanted the thrill of something just a bit subversive, I needed the dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, it’s the middle manager in our brain that helps move electrical impulses from one neuron to another – dopamine rules that synapse, that space, that rewards our pleasure centers.

Like ice cream.

Like subscribing to The New York Times, or Hulu.

Like buying a new car.

I guess it’s called self-care. In the midst of our current all too real reality Trumpworld show, it’s important not to let despair win. It’s important to do all we can to register new voters, and encourage them to show up this November for midterms. In TN we have until July 3rd to register in order to vote in the midterms, and it’s easy. You just fill out a form and mail it in – every library in the state has them. And I’ve deposited quite a few in our local coffee shop.

So keep your chin up and don’t even bite that hook about civility. If bakers can refuse to serve an LGBTQ couple, and pharmacists can refuse to fill an Rx to terminate a nonviable pregnancy, than We The People can throw the lying press secretary out on her tone deaf ear. Terrorists are killing reporters now, something quite common in an authoritarian state.

It’s happening faster than I ever could have imagined, so support the free press and not Trump entertainment network, where Milo Yiannopoulos can say he was “only kidding” about gunning down journalists.

Get a natural shot of dopamine folks whenever and wherever you can, before abortion becomes criminalized. We’re gonna need to get tough. Here are some badass young scientists from back in their med school days. Let’s get out the VOTE!

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Joyful Nanaing

Great Grandma Ada told me the other day that she has the next title for my book, only she couldn’t remember it. It was something like “How to be Happy While Grandparenting,” or “Ten Rules for Happy Grandparenting.”

It had come to her in a dream and of course she didn’t write it down. But she loves it when her Great Grands stop by, and she is always telling me I should write a book! So I thought I’d do a quick synopsis in this post.

First of all – Never (or almost never) follow your children’s rules. This might be easier if your adult child happens to be the Mama/Bride since you raised her, so she knows full well what you are capable of – like showing up out of the blue at a sleepover.

Encourage creativity – For instance, the Love Bug and I spent the morning in a secret garden discovering over 30 species of lilies and getting bit by a thousand mosquitoes.

Switch Things Up – Sometimes we have a “Dessert First Lunch!” We’ve had ice cream first and celebration cheesecake with sprinkles. It’s best not to do this too often because then it’s no longer special.

In that same vein, we LOVE breakfast for dinner!

Talk about diversity – “Pumpkin, you are my cuddle bunny!” And he replies, “No, Nana I’m not white!.” To which I say, “But bunnies can be white or brown, or black and white…” Then he says, “Like Dalmatians?!”

Go to the movies! I spent many years skipping school and taking the Rocker to the movies and now he’s working in the film industry! Every Jersey Girl knows if it looks like rain. hit up your local multi-plex.

I want to be the “Gateaux Maman” as the French say, the Grandmama of Cake – the sweetest, silliest, happiest nana in their universe. So when I am with my Grands, the world is a happy place. Nothing could be finer. We have Pippy Longstocking and Holly Golightly FUN!

Today we had crepes for lunch. Tomorrow, the Love Bug will tell me about her first day at Robotics Camp. And I will ask if she wants to color her hair purple? Or maybe it’s time to pierce her ears? With two parents who are doctors, I must do what I can!

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Re-Formation

“The other interesting thing that’s happened [in contemporary Christianity] is this splitting of church into two types of services: the smaller devotional congregations and then the arena entertainment-based congregations, which are much more outgoing and communal, like Abundant Life. And I would not presume to say that one is better than the other because I’m sure there’s good Christians in both, but my preference is certainly for the devotional side. If I’m going to go to a Taylor Swift concert or see a football game, I’ll do that. I won’t go to church.”

If you want to get anywhere fast in the South, travel on Sunday morning. That’s because most people go to church and the roads are empty mid-morning, unless you’re trying to cross the Cumberland River where a huge TV mega-church is located and traffic can back up for miles. As a full-fledged lapsed Catholic, I could never understand the pull of a church service over say breakfast in bed with a Bloody Mary on the side. I figure Sacred Heart School and St Joseph’s Camp for Girls just squeezed the religious life out of me for good!

Now that Great Grandma Ada has moved to Nashville, she’s met FIVE ministers! Imagine that, in the course of one week she has managed to get right with God because we know that she married a reformed minister herself. And I mean “reformed” as in an ex-Baptist Missionary Minister who spread the good word and built wells and hospitals in Ghana – that is, until he saw the light and recreated himself as a pastoral counselor back home. Then he mostly just married people and tried fixing their marriages later; when he wasn’t carving totem poles.

When I asked Great Grandpa Hudson what religion he wanted to be affiliated with, he said, “Orthodox Judaism!”

Well we all burst out laughing! Anyone who knows Hudson knows he was kidding. Orthodoxy, fanaticism of any kind is abhorrent to him. And just as modern Christians have split themselves into two camps – one being the extreme-Trump-show where anything goes, including separating families at our borders while quoting Bible verses, and the other being more reasonable, ie “devotional,” we Americans are splitting apart too. While Mr T dismantles and disrupts democracy from within, God-fearing Christians make excuses because all the while he’s appointing federal judges to advance their agenda. You know the drill:

You don’t want to bake a cake for a gay wedding, because hey, it’s your religious right!

You want that tiny embryo to be declared a person, and criminalize abortion.

You love your AR 15s and want to buy as many as you possibly can, just because.

If you are a fanatical Christian, an evangelical holier-than-thou holy roller, let’s face it, you’re probably not reading this post. You’re watching Fox Entertainment “News” or listening to one of its subsidiaries. The one time I got into social media trouble was after posting an article calling out Mr T as a faux Christian…because when someone is “born again” everything can be forgiven. Everything.

And the Irish in me can’t always forgive. I was all ready to applaud our current First Lady for visiting a detention center for separated refugee children in Texas, until I saw her cheap jacket emblazoned with “I really don’t care. Do U?” graffiti on her back. I had an ounce of pity for her before, because I saw her hasty hand-swipe, and understood that she didn’t ask for all this attention. But she has become a fashion icon and would never don a piece of clothing like that, evah!

Her “Let them eat cake” moment was supposed to show us her softer side. And I must admit, I HATE it when the news cycle picks up on her clothing and not her words – did she really think these children could call, let alone find their parents? I can’t wait to see who will portray her on a future Netflix docu-drama. Meanwhile, a film you don’t want to miss is:

“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader’s austere, intense portrait of a Protestant minister coming undone in upstate New York. The movie, starring Ethan Hawke as the Rev. Ernst Toller, explores themes that viewers versed in Mr. Schrader’s more than four-decade body of work — which includes “American Gigolo” and “Light Sleeper” (as director) and “Taxi Driver” (as screenwriter) and the critical study “Transcendental Style in Film” — will surely recognize. This is not the first time he has delved into the existential torment of a man’s soul… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/movies/first-reformed-paul-schrader.

Tonight we’ll escort Great Grandma Ada to the Temple for some Jewish levity, or irony, or sanity in the South. We’ll re-introduce her to her tribe in the Reform Jewish tradition, which means I never had to promise to keep Kosher. Thank God! From one snowflake, an avalanche.

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